Nova Scotia

'Celebrate survivorship': Cancer survivor garden coming to Dartmouth

The idea of a cancer survivor garden started with Judie and Jim Edgar. The municipality is now looking to hire a landscape company to help bring the garden to life.

'It's been a really remarkable citizen-led effort here,' says local councillor

Judie and Jim Edgar, both survivors of cancer, are the couple behind the idea for a cancer survivor garden in Dartmouth. (Submitted by Judie Edgar)

The Halifax Regional Municipality is looking to hire a landscape company to build a daffodil garden in support of cancer survivors at the small park next to the Alderney ferry terminal in Dartmouth.

The idea started with Judie and Jim Edgar, who live in Cole Harbour and are both survivors of cancer.

Judie was first inspired by a garden dedicated to survivors and their families that she saw in Ottawa, where she was living when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.

She said you'll often find parks memorializing those who have died from cancer. But she wants to remind people to acknowledge those who've survived.

"There's so many survivors out there that you don't hear about," said Judie. "Our goal is to celebrate survivorship."

The garden will have a ribbon-shaped path with daffodil-coloured benches and inspirational quotes. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

The Edgars moved back to Nova Scotia in 2007. Judie's cancer returned in 2013. 

Five years later, for the second time, Judie was cancer free. But within this time, Jim was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He has since had surgery and is now doing well. 

Judie said cancer survivor gardens or parks are designed to create an inspirational environment intended to promote understanding, acceptance and enjoying survivorship.

The garden will be located between Ferry Terminal Park and the King's Wharf development, along the Dartmouth harbour walk. It's hoped it will be ready by the fall.

'How compelling the idea is'

Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, put forward the recommendation for the garden to council in January. But he wants to keep the emphasis on Judie and Jim Edgar.

He said it went from "the germ of an idea" to a much larger project in about two years. 

"It's been a really remarkable citizen-led effort here," said Austin. "[It happened] really, really quick and it just speaks to how compelling the idea is."

Coun. Sam Austin said the cancer survivors garden is a compelling idea. (CBC)

The garden will have a ribbon-shaped path with daffodil-coloured benches and inspirational quotes. It will also be filled with daffodils, the symbol of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The official name will be the Daffodil Garden for Cancer Survivors. The municipality issued a tender for the work on Friday. It closes Aug. 29.

In January, the construction was expected to cost about $50,000, divided between the municipality, province, donors and some councillors through their district funds.

A statue of three people, one young, one middle-aged, one senior, will stand in the middle of the ribbon-shaped path. Judie said it signifies that cancer doesn't discriminate.

Ivan Higgins, owner of Concrete Creations in Liverpool, N.S., has been commissioned to sculpt it.


Kaitlyn Swan is a Cree multimedia journalist from Regina. Three years ago she traded the sound of trains for the sound of foghorns. She now lives in Dartmouth, N.S., constantly pumped about water and windy roads, scenery she didn't get often in the Prairies. Reach her on Twitter @SaitlynKwan, or by email